Greeting blog readers, random internet browsers, and Karla. It’s the last week of school. In-fact, it’s my last week at Caltech for a while. I’m going to be in Singapore for 2 months, followed by a three-week interlude of gallivanting across Europe and Asia before I start study abroad in Scotland until late December. Gone for a bit over 6 months. From Pasadena, from Colorado, and from the U.S. in general. It’s a bit of a scary thought but I’d be lying if I said I was anything but excited to start this adventure.
Anyways. This blog post is going to catalog the week of goodbyes. The week of emotions. Last finals. New hellos. Old goodbyes. And other clichés we use to fill this strange location of Pasadena, California.
Mainly, I said goodbye to the U.S. by doing the thing I do most here: eating. I went to a few new restaurants and then two old favorites (Daddy’s Chicken and Super Burger). The odd thing I’ve noticed about Los Angeles is that there isn’t really a defined food culture. There’s not a lot of food that’s quintessentially American (maybe burgers. I had In-N-Out too right before I left). And so, exploring that in a way is at least one way that I’ll always be able to connect to my roots here.
I also had to say goodbye to a lot of friends. People I work with in admissions, dining. My friends who I spend hours agonizing over sets with during the weeks. A couple of dogs I like to hang out with. The Pokémon Go Pasadena group. It’s a bit odd to have made so many close connections over the past two years that there are that many people I’m going to miss (and who might miss me too). But it feels nice to have people that close. That’s part of what Caltech gets you, small school and all.
And of course, I ended my trip with one final visit to my true home in Pasadena, Labobatory. I know that there’ll be boba everywhere I’m going but Labobatory has a special place in my heart, between the people and the drinks. In terms of food, I think I’ll miss that most of all.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.